There are a number of important things to consider for patients after they have had Gastric Bypass Surgery. Take some time to read through the information and get informed if you are considering this procedure.
After having a gastric bypass, the modifications made to your gastrointestinal tract will require permanent changes in your eating habits that must be adhered to for successful weight loss. Without these necessary changes, such as decreasing or limiting your intake of high-fat, high-sugar foods, you may stop losing weight or even begin to gain weight again. Limiting high intakes of sugary foods is especially important to decrease the chance of Dumping Syndrome, where these foods move too quickly through the digestive tract into the intestine and can cause cramping, pain and discomfort, among other related symptoms.
Post-surgery dietary guidelines will vary by surgeon. You may hear of other patients who are given different guidelines following their gastric bypass surgery. It is important to remember that every surgeon does not perform the exact same weight loss surgery procedure and that the dietary guidelines will be different for each surgeon and each type of bariatric procedure.
What is most important is that you adhere strictly to your surgeon’s recommended guidelines. The following are some of the dietary guidelines I recommend after a gastric bypass:
- During 4 weeks you will go on a liquid diet and advance in steps to a puree/baby food type diet for one or two additional weeks and transition to an almost normal (solid food) diet after that.
- When you start eating solid food it is essential that you chew thoroughly.
- You will not be able to eat steaks or other chunks of meat if they are not ground or chewed thoroughly.
- Don’t drink fluids while eating. They will make you feel full before you have consumed enough food or they will flush down more food than you should be taking in.
- Omit desserts and other items with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients.
- Omit carbonated drinks, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes, high-fat foods and foods with high fiber content.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Limit snacking between meals.
Going Back to Work
Your ability to resume pre-surgery levels of activity will vary according to your physical condition, the nature of the activity and the type of gastric bypass you had (open or laparoscopic). Many patients return to full pre-surgery levels of activity within six weeks of an open Gastric Bypass procedure. Patients who have had a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure may be able to return to these activities within a week.
Birth Control & Pregnancy
It is strongly advised that women of childbearing age use effective forms of birth control during the first 16 to 24 months after a gastric bypass surgery since the fertility increases during weight loss. The added demands pregnancy places on your body and the potential for fetal damage make this a most important requirement.
Although the short-term effects of weight loss surgery are well understood, there are still some questions to be answered about the long-term effects on nutrition and body systems. Nutritional deficiencies that occur over the course of many years are well known if you don’t take the recommended supplements. You will take supplements of Vitamins and Minerals (such as calcium and iron) for life and have a full blood work test done at least once every year.
The widespread use of support groups has provided weight loss surgery patients an excellent opportunity to discuss their various issues. Most learn, from example, that weight loss surgery will not immediately resolve existing emotional issues or heal the years of damage that morbid obesity might have inflicted on their emotional well-being. Most surgeons have support groups in place to assist you with short-term and long-term questions and needs. I highly recommend enrolling into a support group.
Be cautious when turning to message boards as they are full of doctor’s coordinators or brokers more concerned with increasing business in their direction than providing support. You have to be aware of their presence and not allow them to manipulate you; they are only interested in gossiping or scaring you when you are only looking for the right answers.
Most bariatric surgeons who frequently perform weight loss surgery will tell you that ongoing post-surgical support helps produce the greatest level of success for their patients.